Previous, Next, Numerical Index, Chronological Index.
For All Nails #79: Henry the Bad

London, England, UK
9 April 1974

Henry Edward Albert George Windsor, [1] by the Grace of God King of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain, Emperor of the United Empire, Defender of
the Faith, etc. etc., was, as usual, in a bad mood.  What he really wanted to
do was fire a couple of the Queen's corgis (nasty brutes!) out of a cannon,
but unfortunately you couldn't do that sort of thing these days (damn
vitavision snoops were everywhere).  Instead, Henry was indulging in one of
his favorite pastimes: abusing the servants.  Not physical abuse, of course;
you couldn't do /that/ sort of thing these days, either.  Rather, he was
using his outstanding command of invective to tear one of the chambermaids a
new bodily orifice.

But it wasn't working, dammit!  The particular chambermaid in question (her
name was Alice something-or-other, and like all the chambermaids employed by
the Queen she was a stocky, hirsute horror in her fifties) wasn't responding.
Henry vaguely recalled that she had been employed at Buckingham Palace for
three years or so, and in that time she must have built up an immunity to his
verbal abuse.  She just stood there with an expression of monumental
indifference, and when he was finished she said nothing more than, "Will that
be all then, Y'r Majesty?"

Henry felt like boxing her ears, but was restrained by the suspicion that if
he did, she would (lese majesty or no) respond by beating the stuffing out of
him.  Instead, he dismissed her with a wave of his hand.

King Henry X sat alone in a library full of books he had never read and had
no intention of ever reading, mourning the fact that he had been born into
the twentieth century.  Back in the old days, by God, a monarch had a chance
for some real fun!  Murder, rapine, pillage, torture, mass executions!  And
dungeons!  Why, his royal namesake Henry VIII had had dungeons galore in his
day, stuffed to the rafters with accused traitors, suspected heretics,
unlucky courtiers, and even the occasional unfaithful Queen!  Ah, those were
the days!  If only he were the ruler of someplace like Mexico, like that
Mercator fellow.  Now /there/ was a man who knew how to run a country!
Anybody gives you any trouble, you just haul him out of bed in the dead of
night, finish him off with a bullet to the back of the head, and seal him up
in a concrete embankment. [2] Damn shame the Mexicans were the enemy.

The door to the library creaked open, and the majordomo (or whatever his
title was) hesitantly poked his head in.  "Erm, Your Majesty, it's time for
your appointment with the Prime Minister."

"Get out!" Henry bellowed as he threw a candlestick at the door, and to his
satisfaction the majordomo (or whatever) did so.  The satisfaction was only
fleeting, though.  Unlike the servants here in Buckingham Palace, the
Government were only nominally under Henry's control, and so were proof
against his bullying.

Still, it could be much worse, Henry mused as he got up and made his slow way
from the library to his favorite sitting room.  At least the current
Government weren't a lot of spineless, cringing worms like their
predecessors, or those hopelessly incompetent Johnnies in the CNA.

As Henry entered the sitting room, he saw that Sir Geoffrey Gold was already
there.  He felt his mood lightening as Sir Geoffrey stood up from his seat
and bowed, saying "Your Majesty" like he meant it.  Sir Geoffrey was one of
the few people he had met that Henry actually liked.  The man was ruthless,
cunning, utterly unscrupulous, and in spite of his name didn't have a drop of
Hebe blood running through his veins.  Not surprising, really -- those
National Renewal fellows were Henry's sort of people.  The sort of people
Britain needed.

Henry seated himself and motioned for Sir Geoffrey to do likewise.  "Sir
Geoffrey," he said, "What is it you wish to bring to Our attention today?"

"Your Majesty," said Sir Geoffrey, "the Foreign Office recently received word
that Colonel Alexander Elbittar, the current Maximum Temporary Leader of New
Granada, has issued an invitation to Prince Ferdinand of Spain [3] to come
and assume his country's throne."

"Has he?" said Henry with mild surprise.  "It sounds as though this Elbittar
fellow isn't so bad after all.  For a Dago, that is."

"Indeed, Your Majesty, my thoughts exactly," Sir Geoffrey purred.  "In fact,
this may provide us with just the sort of opening we were hoping for.  What I
wish to propose is that Your Majesty travel to New Granada in person to
attend Prince Ferdinand's coronation.  At the same time, Eustace [4] can
begin negotiations with Colonel Elbittar on a nonaggression pact, or even a
treaty of alliance."

"A splendid suggestion, Sir Geoffrey, splendid," Henry enthused.  "Strike
while the iron is hot!  That's the spirit!"  A sudden thought struck him, and
he added, "Do you happen to know if Prince Ferdinand is married?"

"I do not believe so, Your Majesty."

"Well in that case, what say we seal this treaty with a good old-fashioned
marriage of dynasties?  We've been looking for some way to get Sophia [5]
married off, and this seems ideal.  Plus, we'd get those Spanish
Hohenzollerns on our side, and leave that rat bastard Markstein wondering
what hit him."

Sir Geoffrey looked surprised as he said, "I hadn't considered the
possibility, but the suggestion certainly has merit.  I'll raise the matter
at the next Cabinet meeting."

"Excellent.  Was there anything else you wished to discuss, Sir Geoffrey?"

"Not at this time, Your Majesty."

"Then you have Our leave to depart."

"Thank you, Your Majesty," Sir Geoffrey said as he rose again, bowed towards
Henry, and backed out of the sitting room.

As soon as he was alone, Henry burst into laughter.  Just the thing!  Marry
her off to some prancing little Dago and let her rot away in some distant
tropical pest-hole.  /That/ would show the little hellion!

Notes:

[1] Henry's father, King Henry IX, changed the family's name from the
too-German-sounding Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in 1942.

[2] Henry seems to have an exaggerated idea of the severity of Mercator's
methods.  Or does he?

[3] Eldest surviving son of the late King Philip VI, who was deposed and
executed in the 1967 Puente Coup.

[4] Foreign Secretary Eustace R. Sudbury.

[5] Princess Sophia, the eldest of Henry's three children, and his only
daughter.